For Sale: A Record Store For The Ages

Murray Gershenz at work during the filming of Music Man Murray.

hide captionMurray Gershenz at work during the filming of Music Man Murray.

Richard Parks

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For a limited time, you can watch 'Music Man Murray' in full on the All Songs Considered blog.

There is a music store for sale in Los Angeles. It has old, sagging shelves stuffed with hundreds of thousands of recordings, from wax cylinders to 8-track tapes to LPs and CDs. The man who has owned the business since 1962 is Murray Gershenz.

"I wasn't earning enough money to support my family, so I decided to get some extra income by putting my record collection up for sale," Gershenz tells NPR's Scott Simon. "I opened the store, built some shelves with the help of a rabbi friend of mine and, little by little, the music took over."

Gershenz turns 90 next month. He and his shop are the subject of a new short film by Richard Parks, Music Man Murray. The filmmaker says he first visited the store as a teenager.

"It's kind of like a temple when you go inside," Parks says. "It doesn't feel like you're in a record store. It feels like you're in someone's personal collection."

"People will call up and say, 'You know, when I was very young, my wife and I loved this song. It was sort of our song when we were teenagers, and we'd like to be able to hear it again.' And that's what I enjoy the most," Gershenz says. "Trying to find those things for people."

Parks says he had his work cut out for him with Gershenz's story, which also includes side careers as a cantor and an actor.

"It certainly was a challenge," Parks says. "One of the more interesting things that I found inside this old record store was this great story about a father and a son, and what it's like when a father is coming to the end of his life."

Gershenz says that his son Irv, who appears alongside him in the film, remains hopeful that the store will sell. He's not so sure himself.

"I don't think, from a practical point of view, that it will earn enough money to keep itself going," Gershenz says. "I'm hoping that somebody will donate it to an institution, to a university, because it really should stay together. It's a one-of-a-kind collection. I have rock 'n' roll, I have Chinese music, I have operatic music, I have jazz and blues. ... I have everything you could possibly imagine."

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